Pritzker removes Britton, Ryan from SIU Board of Trustees

By Brian Munoz, Editor in Chief

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from Tom Britton, Marsha Ryan and Phil Gilbert.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. JB Pritzker removed trustees Thomas Britton and Marsha Ryan from the SIU Board of Trustees Tuesday morning. The two trustees were on an “appointment” basis and were never formally approved by the Illinois Senate.

“It was abrupt and I was reassured all along, by a number of people, that my appointment would be ratified and there would be no difficulties,” Britton said. “It comes as a surprise and when I started hearing rumors, I dismissed it.”

Britton said he hopes the board will build on the work that it began during his time.

“Being transparent, making better use of committees, being more vigilant, in terms of keeping informed on things going on in the university system,” Britton said. “I hope the board will direct the university to function as a system – I think there are many advantages to Carbondale and Edwardsville collaborating.”

Britton said collaboration is healthy and improves the overall product offered by the two universities.

Ryan said she respects the governor’s decision and believes the board she sat on did some good work.

“We struggled through some difficult times – having to replace a president, hiring a chancellor who unfortunately died and hiring an interim to replace him,” Ryan said. “We made progress on reorganization for SIUC, we staved off talk of seperation and we managed in the end to have a very collaborative, honest and hardworking board.”

Ryan said the board has a lot of work ahead, including funding for each campus, the strategic plan of the system, the addition of new programs and a variety of things that will have an impact not only on the system, but on its parts.

The removal comes after the board elected J. Phil Gilbert to serve as chairman for 2019-2020 Thursday, replacing Alton lawyer Amy Sholar.

“I cannot emphasize enough the contributions Dr. Marsha Ryan and Tom Britton made as board members,” Gilbert said. “Their time, talents and energy will be missed as board members but I hope to see them continue to be involved with the university.”

Gilbert said he does not know whom Pritzker will nominate to replace the trustees but said that he is looking forward to working with whoever he chooses to appoint. He said as chairman of the board, he will strive to be collaborative and communicative with the board members and move the university system forward.

Shirley Portwood was elected to vice chair and Joel Sambursky was appointed as board secretary. The vote for the appointments was almost unanimous, except for Sholar’s vote against Gilbert and Sambursky.

Gilbert was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2015 and will serve on the board until 2021 but Portwood and Sambursky are in their final year as trustees; each one serves a six-year term.

“I hope this board will respond to southern Illinois and get reconnected to the region – I will miss serving on the board,” Britton said. “It was a real honor.”

Editor in Chief Brian Munoz can be reached at 1-618-536-3397, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BrianMMunoz.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.